Farmers of all kinds are infamously hard workers.
Long hours spent in fields, early mornings tending to livestock, and constant stress over land conditions are just a few of the factors with which agrarians must contend.
Like every other part of life, though, technology has begun stepping in to make farmers’ lives easier in a number of ways.
Elbow Grease to Autonomy
Strictly speaking, the only real difference between a robot and a machine is that a robot functions automatically. That considered, the true beginning of agricultural robotics could be traced back to when early man began using tools to assist with farming. Of course, in stricter terms, the first whispers of agriculture robots or agribots could probably be attributed to the invention of the plough.
Since then, farming implements have exploded into an incredibly lucrative industry. The major drawback of all of this technology, though, is that it still requires manual operation. Even combines that function largely on GPS require the assistance of an operator. If that seems a little unnecessary to you, you’re not alone.
Updating The Industry
Agriculture is a very old profession, but the tools it uses don’t have to be. Today, agribots have infiltrated the industry to assist with weeding, harvesting, and even overall yield improvement. Because of their ability for precision, robots can more efficiently administer herbicides and therefore cut back on their environmental impacts.
Autonomous harvesting is currently used to pick fruit, a tedious process generally reserved for human hands, but one that can be done much more efficiently with a robot. Likewise, some companies are responding to poor yields with assessment technologies that can give farmers practical suggestions for improvement.
Generally speaking, think of agribots as workers willing to perform the sort of menial, repetitive tasks that no human enjoys, but which are critical to the industry. Sorting, packing, picking, weeding—you name it. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to spend an entire day doing, there’s probably an agribot that performs the task.
A Bot for Every Process
As Artificial Intelligence and robotics progress rapidly, so does the field of agricultural robots. This is, perhaps, one of the most practical applications of robotics in the modern age. As drones start to survey fields for potential issues, tractors become smart enough to prepare fields on their own, and visual technology makes it possible for a machine to handle planting with a high degree of precision, farmers may soon be more like foremen overseeing a process than workers on the frontlines.
Every part of agriculture currently handled by a human, be it feeding cattle, shearing sheep, or harvesting crops, may soon be handled by a highly intelligent machine. This falls in line with cinematic visions of the future, like the one portrayed in Interstellar, where farmers simply oversee the machines that work for them.
As every industry is touched by tech, it makes sense that agriculture should join the super modern landscape of the rest of the world with machines that make farmers’ lives easier. While the profession of farming will always be tedious and laborious, agricultural robots are already stepping in to simplify it.